Introduction

The old Testament is the battleground in the theological struggle between the advocates of the openness view of God and the advocates of the traditional view of God. The openness view, a recent and rare position,1 challenges important, vital, and cherished teachings about the character and nature of God. It represents a seismic shift not only in theology but also in history and in exegesis. Because its teachings and implications are so thoroughgoing and so far-reaching,2 Christians must weigh its claims carefully and test its doctrines meticulously. Both sides of the dispute, to be sure, lay claim to the Bible—especially the old Testament—to substantiate their position. To validate the claims of the openness view, then, one may appeal to a disinterested third party, like a referee, an umpire, or a judge to evaluate impartially the evidence. Because the Old Testament is the common possession of Christians and Jews, and because the Old Testament is in the front lines of this conflict, the early Rabbis of the Talmud and the Midrash, like a referee or a judge,

1 Gregory Boyd, for instance, states, "Still, I must concede that the open view has been relatively rare in church history. In my estimation this is because almost from the start the church's theology was significantly influenced by Plato's notion that God's perfection must mean that he is in every respect unchanging—including in his knowledge and experience. This philosophical assumption has been losing its grip on Western minds over the last hundred years, which is, in part, why an increasing number of Christians are coming to see the significance of the biblical motif of divine openness" (God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2000], 115).

2 see part 4 of this volume, "What is at stake in the openness Debate?"

24 beyond the bounds can test the historical, exegetical, and theological claims and teachings of the openness view. Under Rabbinic scrutiny and examination, however, the openness view fails, its lethal errors exposed, its inaccurate claims concerning history, theology, and exegesis repudiated.

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